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Play Ball!

Oct 01, 2018 08:08AM ● By Russ Carroll

Willie, Trevor and Joe post match-up at the College World Series

Play Ball!

By Russell Carroll


We all know the old saying, “Lighting doesn’t strike twice in the same place.” I would bet most of us would not argue this. What if I tell you lighting has struck three times in the same place? Recently, three young men, Joe DeMers, Willie MacIver, and Trevor Larnach, all originating from the same area, were drafted by Major League Baseball teams in the same draft year. DeMers is from Martinez, and MacIver and Larnach are from Pleasant Hill. But the similarities do not stop there.


Joe and Willie began playing baseball together at the age of 8 and have played on the same teams all the way through college at the University of Washington. Trevor joined them at age 10 and shared several teams with them, including high school. All three went to college on baseball scholarships. I recently caught up with them and asked a few questions. I was amazed their answers to the same questions were often identical.


When Joe and Willie were 8 and playing together on the PHBA Giants, Joe threw a “perfect season.” That’s right, “season.” As their starting pitcher, no opposing batter ever reached base. No hits, no walks, no hit batters. The other teams simply never reached base. DeMers hit 30 home runs in 25 games. In one game down 2-1, Willie hit the tying home run and Joe hit the winning homer. They went on to the championship game, where they played the PHBA Devil Rays and their star player, Trevor Larnach. Willie and Joe got the best of Trevor that year.


At age 10, Trevor joined Joe and Willie on the Condors, the PHBA travel team. After much success, Joe and Willie joined a club team in LaMorinda and Trevor at Tabu. They often ran into each other at tournaments in AZ, FL, GA, and all over the country. Trevor joined Joe and Willie again at 14 in LaMorinda. DeMers also played for the USA team as a 16 & 17 year-old on USA’s 18 year-old team.


The three again played together in high school at College Park, where they won 3 division titles and two Norcal Championships, one in division 1 and one in division 2. These 3 players, along with another close friend, Jeff Mitchell, anchored what has to be one of the best high school baseball teams the state has ever seen. Their talents were rewarded with college scholarships. During their college careers, they always stayed in contact. When home on breaks, they were always together, including Mitchell, who was playing at Cal.


They all have had stellar college careers. DeMers threw the only perfect game in Washington’s history. Joe talks about losing Willie to injury their last year, and the team seemed to struggle without him. When Willie returned, he energized the whole team. They were faced with the daunting task of having to win their last 10 series of the season to make it to the first round of the College World Series (CWS). They won all 10 series. DeMers credits a lot of that success to MacIver’s return. Larnach was quietly battling for home run and RBI leader at OSU.


Both UW and OSU made it to the CWS where, of course, they met for an elimination game, a rematch of that game when they were 8. This time, Larnach’s squad got the best of DeMers and MacIver. Trevor’s Beavers went on to win it all in Omaha. In the CWS championship game, Trevor hit a 3-run homer to put the game out of reach. That home run bounced off a large picture of Joe DeMers on the right field bullpen wall.


Can lightning strike three times in the same place? You bet. Joe was drafted by his hometown Oakland Athletics, Willie by the Colorado Rockies, and Trevor by the Minnesota Twins. They all were in agreement when I asked about their favorite memories: “Getting the news about a college scholarship and the news about being drafted.” When I asked about what they loved most about the game, again, they were in agreement: “The competition. Always wanting and needing to improve. Always wanting to be the best.” When asked about their relationship with one another, they again were on the same page: “These guys are my brothers. I love these guys.”


What impressed me the most about all of these guys was their humility and gratitude. They each spoke about their appreciation for baseball organizations such as PHBA, LaMorinda, and Tabu. They spoke about coaches who have guided and pushed them along the way. They recognize the effort and toll their journey required from their families. A recurring topic was their love and appreciation for their families. These guys truly understand their talent as well as how fortunate they are.


My last question for Joe and Willie was “Ok, with Trevor going number 20 in the first round, the next time you are all home, is he buying dinner”? Willie and Joe simply replied “Oh, yeah.” When I told Trevor about their response, he said, “I’d be happy to.”